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Lacson ‘all in’ for anti-terror bill, vows to be ‘eagle-eyed, vigilant’ vs. abuse

Senator Panfilo Lacson, a principal author of the controversial Anti-Terrorism Bill, said he is "all in" in support of it and that he will be "eagle-eyed and vigilant" in guarding against abuse of the measure.

In an emailed statement on Sunday, Lacson claimed Section 29 was "merely a restatement" of the same provision in Republic Act 9372 or the Human Security Act of 2007, and defended the supposed constitutionality of one the measure's highly-questioned sections.

" I will be as eagle-eyed and vigilant and more in guarding against abuses in the implementation of the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 because I will regard any abuse as a bigger challenge, since I am going all in on this," the statement read.

"'Taya pati pamato na ako rito,' not just because I was the principal sponsor of the measure who painstakingly defended its constitutionality and strict compliance to the Bill of Rights with the help of most of my colleagues who interpellated and proposed their amendments to further enhance the safeguards which I accommodated, as long as we would not come up with another dead-letter law like its predecessor, the Human Security Act of 2007," Lacson added.

The Senate approved on third and final version its version of the bill in February while the House of Representatives approved its version earlier this month.

With the approval of both Houses of Congress, the proposed measure has been transmitted to Malacañang and is now only awaiting President Rodrigo Duterte's signature to be passed into law.

According to Lacson, Section 29 of Republic Act 9372 was originally proposed by Senator Franklin Drilon, and accepted and favored by Senators Juan Ponce Enrile, Aquilino Pimentel Jr., Miriam Defensor Santiago, Richard Gordon, and Pia Cayetano, among others.

"With so many illustrious names in the law profession going through the same provision—'having been duly authorized in writing by the ATC, having taken custody of...' how could a layman and perpetual law student like me doubt the constitutionality of the said Sec 29?" said Lacson.

The updated Section 29 of the Anti-Terrorism Bill is titled "Detention without judicial warrant of arrest." It authorizes the Anti-Terror Council—composed of unelected officials—to order the arrest and detention of "suspected terrorists."

The Section also allows suspected terrorists to be arrested and detained without a warrant for up to 24 days. The Constitution states that those arrested without a warrant must be charged within three days, otherwise suspects must be freed.

Such section, as well as the timing of the passage, has been questioned by several groups across different sectors across the country—business groups, academe, lawyers' groups, and Vice President Maria Leonor "Leni" Robredo.

ON June 12, Independence Day, groups held rallies against the bill, including a "mañanita" at the University of the Philippines campus in Diliman.

Earlier on Sunday, Lacson vowed to join street protests if the law were to be abused. — BM, GMA News